Hurricane Ian Update, Day 10

Posted originally on the conservative tree house on October 8, 2022 | Sundance

There is a particular texture and smell familiar to those who have trekked through saltwater marshes.  In ordinary times the moment when the greyish matter takes custody of your shoe, you quickly ponder whether to stick your hand into it or just buy another pair of sandals and move on… often it’s the latter.

The sand, sediment, dirt and decomposing nature -to include fish bits and wildlife food sources- creates a blended muck and grows slowly over years.  The moist muck does not like to be disturbed.  It has a very particular smell when it is disturbed, until it dries, almost like a natural defense mechanism.  Hurricane Ian disturbed the backwater shoreline inland and introduced that sludge mix to places it was never before, like inside buildings.  Thankfully it is drying out now.

The officials in charge of Fort Myers Beach have determined that almost every structure on the island is unsafe after the storm pushed a massive surge of water onto the island while the wind destroyed the buildings.  Residents are being carefully managed and kept away from areas where search crews are still looking through rubble.

A plan for a limited number of residents to be bussed into one part of the area to look for belongings has been released [link].  Beach officials are calling it, “debris management and the effort to locate our friends and loved ones.”  It is now a full ten days later, and no one wants to use the real words, ‘dead people.’   I think about Ms Veronica being so clear and true in her point a few days ago, “there are dead people and there are survivors.”

Further north and to the west on Pine Island there are lots of survivors.  With the temporary road giving access, there are lots of people picking up bits, fragments, and other important stuff that holds their memories; each bit revisited in the handling of it, many bits thought about tenderly for the first time in decades.   Fragmented bits hold memories, and those memories are exactly what make up the invisible links of our lives.

Living is what we do right now, but life is in the memories.  I have my own cigar box full of bits that I have thought about recently, and now as we watch how each individual person picks up their bits amid the chaos, I have greater context for why they matter.

Memories matter.

A recently widowed Ms. Grace was describing life after her husband died when she said, “my husband George was here” and immediately -despite all the chaos around her- she reached for one bit to prove it.  Memories matter.  Yes, those bits matter.

On a practical level the ability to retrieve the mementos of life is a big part of why clearing the way, what the officials call “cut and toss”, is important.  Pine Island is accessible now and generally vehicle transit to within walking distance of most bits is possible.   However, after a day of retrieval the long-haul perspective sinks in.

The whisper of ‘daunting‘ wants everyone to look at the scale of the challenge.  We have new phrases like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to explain what the daunting dance does to the psyche.  However, the wise rebuilders are looking only at the two feet in front of them.  Move that pile today and it will not be there tomorrow. So, I shall move that pile… for tomorrow.  And for the many more tomorrows to come, we are blessed and thankful.

For a great representation of who/how Pine Islanders are, as well as the resourcefulness of those who are attached to the community, this local video story is one example amid hundreds that are identical.  WATCH:


Pine Island Strong

Here’s the notification for FMB…

Love to all.  More later….

~ Sundance

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